Officials: Work will make Hamilton intersection safer, less congested

After the $2.4 million construction is finished on Hamilton’s intersection of High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, there should be fewer backups on both High and MLK.

State and local officials hope the number of crashes at the intersection will significantly drop from 98 over a three-year period.

City Public Works Director Rich Engle recently told members of city council the work will provide a dedicated right-turn lane for vehicles that are westbound on High Street waiting to go northbound on MLK Boulevard.

And for motorists driving southbound on MLK, wanting to go eastbound on High, a second left-turn lane will be added. That will alleviate backups that extend a block to Butler Street, or even another block, to Dayton Street, some times of the day, Engle said.

Construction crews as part of the work also will change the edges of the northeastern and southeastern corners, to make it easier for tractor trailers to make turns without driving over the curbs and sidewalks at the intersection.

Engle noted the project is 90 percent funded by federal and state governments — a particularly generous amount for a road project because it’s part of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s safety-grant program. The city is funding the rest.

ODOT spokesman Brian Cunningham said the project was approved for the safety-grant program in 2012 based on crashes in 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.

“Typically when they’re doing safety analysis, they take a three-year period, just because if you look at one year, it could be an anomaly, or whatever,” Cunningham said. “And most of those crashes were rear-end crashes. The primary contributor to that is congestion.”

The study also looked at nearby intersections, and found 388 crashes in that period, Cunningham added. “Some of that is primarily attributed to congestion.”

Crews from Sunesis Construction Co. of West Chester now are working on the intersection’s northeast corner, where there’s a parking lot. That work should end in December. Work on the southeast corner, where the McDonald’s restaurant is located, should be finished by March, Engle said.

In a related matter, the city at some point may study ways to beautify the concrete walls immediately east of the intersection, where High Street dips to pass below the railroad tracks.

“Rich has done some preliminary research, and has found a number of applications we could put on that would make it look more aesthetically pleasing,” City Manager Joshua Smith told council.

Engle said this week that the resurfacing of the walls is not an immediate priority to be done in conjunction with the current intersection work, but is something the city may consider to improve the appearance along the roadway.

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